Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News That Matters - May 20, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

I was driving back from the farm the other day and my chosen route was I84 from Southeast, up and over the Highlands and then down their spine to the Taconic Parkway southwards to my road on the other side. It's a bit longer than taking the streets but it's a beautiful drive and by-passes the clogging, choked traffic on routes 6 and 52 in Carmel.

More than 300 people attended the Scoping Session
for Patterson Crossing back in January of 2005

Heading westbound on I84, just after you crest the ridge where Route 312 crosses over, the viewshed becomes stunning, offering undisturbed hillsides stretching off into the distance with one ridge falling behind another as the highway winds through the Highlands. It's this view that visitors or passers-through see as they drive from points east and west along the I84 corridor connecting New England with our nation's mid-section. It is, without question, one of the nicer vistas along the entirety of the way.
But the viewshed I've just described and which many of you have seen for yourselves is threatened by the construction of Patterson Crossing. It's bad enough "The Highlands" lopped off the top of a mountain as if the developer were strip mining for coal. But it's even worse: destroying yet another mountain and another view, wantonly stripping off 60 acres of trees and threatening a community's way of life - and without official censure or condemnation or penalty of any kind.

While the Hamlet of Patterson remains a dead zone and the Route 52 corridor in Kent is littered with empty, decaying buildings, (which, thanks to Arne Nordstrom will be connected with a million dollar sidewalk) how can anyone in their right mind consider such a project? It's not unlike the DEC who wanted to run an industrial operation on the pristine slopes of Mt. Nimham but who would not repair the damage created in the 1970's when they planted invasives that have destroyed the eastern side of that wild forest and left it, in many cases, a thorny monoculture of japanese barberry.

And just as thorny is the question of what to do about Patterson Crossing and how to stop it once and for all. The responsibility now turns to the Kent Town Board to preserve the integrity of the town and the Lake Carmel community. The question of what they will do with it remains to be answered. I will admit their hands are largely tied but a little activism could go a long way... if it's not already too late.
State Supreme Court judge Andrew O'Rourke dismissed arguments from a neighbor who objected to the rebuilding of the Belle Levine Arts Center in Mahopac. Considering he'd been a neighbor since 1987 and had never objected to the Arts Center's existence before, he didn't have much of a case. And, being a lawyer himself he should have known that. His actions cost people a great deal of money and placed a goodly amount of stress on more. I hope he's disbarred.

Everyone's school budget passed save Mahopac.

A portion of the Historic Albany Post Road in Continental Village will be paved.
The long standing battle to keep the road in its original condition, which predates our nation's founding, was lost to the lawyers.

Website Watch:
WWOOF.ORG: It's summer, you've just gotten out of school and you've not much to occupy your time. However, you do like the thought of growing your own organic foods and being part of the whole movement towards better health and sustainability. You also might like to see some other part of the USA or the greater world around us and it would be even better if you could combine all this into one plan. Well (you knew this was coming), you can.
WWOOF stands for "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" and their website WWOOF.ORG will connect you with farms around the globe that can offer you what you're looking for. Give it a go.
See you in Niagara: So, you're getting married but money is tight and though it's always been your dream to do the honeymoon at Niagara Falls thing, you just can't find the do-re-mi nor the time. Well, just set in front of your computer and load this page. Live, streaming video! And yes, you can watch the colors change at night. If that's not enough, visit EarthCam.Com for live cams around the world.
Tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7:30 PM, Kent Fiscal Watch will be hosting an open forum featuring Assemblywoman Sandy Galef at the Lake Carmel Community Center, 10 Huguenot Road, Lake Carmel NY. The main topics of discussion will be: How to make the Open Meeting and Freedom of Information Act more effective in opening up government documents, Consolidation of Administrative and other Services in schools and other agencies, School Taxes: The Circuit Breaker Bill, The Cahill Bill, all different approaches to the same problem. How to take part in your town's budget development, and my favorite topic, the importance of citizen activism.

And now, The News:
  1. The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines
  2. Largest Solar Project In State History 
  3. New Law in Virginia Authorizes Incentives for Green Roofs
  4. Environmentally-friendly Cooling With Magnetic Refrigerators Coming Soon
  5. It's always Earth Day at Connecticut trash museum
  6. Suffolk home rule message eyes seceding from state
  7. Splitting Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen
  8. Hard Times Give New Life to Prague’s Golem
  9. Dad Calls 911 After Son Refuses To Clean Room

The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines

With politicians pushing adoption of renewable energy in the United States and Europe, the last few years have seen a surge in plans for wind farms--both on land and sea. But wind power isn't viable everywhere--and prime coastal spots are often already developed.

So some wind-turbine makers are shifting their focus toward building bigger wind turbines that can harvest the lower-speed winds that are more readily available. This next generation of wind turbines is no small matter: their rotors have a diameter the size of a football field.

In general, wind turbines get more powerful and efficient with taller turbine towers and larger areas swept by the blades, according to the American Wind Energy Association. A turbine's swept area is a key indicator in how much power output potential the turbine has.

"Lower wind-speed turbines certainly open up more land for development," said Rich Reno, platform leader for General Electric's new 2.5-megawatt wind turbine. "Larger turbines open up the opportunity to get more megawatts out of a given piece of land."

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Largest Solar Project In State History 

Albany - Governor David A. Paterson today announced the largest solar photovoltaic project in New York, which will help the State meet its energy needs, foster the development of solar technologies and stimulate the economy with new clean energy jobs. This initiative follows on the heels of the Governor’s recently announced 50 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project, lead by the Long Island Power Authority. Together, these projects totaling 150 MW would position New York as the State with the second highest installed PV capacity.

“Today’s announcement is a critical step forward in achieving New York’s goals under its Renewable Portfolio Standard and in boosting the State’s energy independence,” said Governor Paterson. “The installation of 100 megawatts of solar power at our schools, municipal and commercial buildings, and other State sites will enhance New York State’s status as a leader in the new clean energy economy and will create clean energy jobs right here in New York State.”

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New Law in Virginia Authorizes Incentives for Green Roofs

A new law enacted earlier this year in the Commonwealth of Virginia authorizes counties, cities, and towns to grant incentives or provide regulatory flexibility to encourage the use of green roofs in the construction, repair, or remodeling of residential and commercial buildings. The incentives or regulatory flexibility could include (i) a reduction in permit fees when green roofs are used, (ii) a streamlined process for the approval of building permits when green roofs are used, or (iii) a reduction in any gross receipts tax on green roof contractors as defined by the local ordinance.   A green roof is defined as either a solar roof or a vegetative roof. A solar roof is defined as a solar roofing system that generates reusable energy, which reusable energy accounts for at least 2.5 percent of the total electric energy used by the building to which the solar roofing system is attached. “Vegetative roof” is defined as a roofing system designed in accordance with the Virginia Stormwater Management Program’s standards and specifications for green roofs, as set forth in the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse, in which at least 50 percent of the total roofing area is vegetative.

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Environmentally-friendly Cooling With Magnetic Refrigerators Coming Soon

ScienceDaily (May 17, 2009) — Scientists are a step closer to making environmentally-friendly 'magnetic' refrigerators and air conditioning systems a reality, thanks to new research published May 15 in Advanced Materials.

Magnetic refrigeration technology could provide a 'green' alternative to traditional energy-guzzling gas-compression fridges and air conditioners. They would require 20-30% less energy to run than the best systems currently available, and would not rely on ozone-depleting chemicals or greenhouse gases. Refrigeration and air conditioning units make a major contribution to the planet's energy consumption - in the USA in the summer months they account for approximately 50% of the country's energy use.

A magnetic refrigeration system works by applying a magnetic field to a magnetic material - some of the most promising being metallic alloys - causing it to heat up. This excess heat is removed from the system by water, cooling the material back down to its original temperature. When the magnetic field is removed the material cools down even further, and it is this cooling property that researchers hope to harness for a wide variety of cooling applications.

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It's always Earth Day at Connecticut trash museum

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) — In a waterfront industrial area near the Bridgeport line, the trucks keep dumping trash and the school buses keep dumping children.

Eight-year-old Matt Carlucci is in awe as soon as he walks through the front door of The Garbage Museum, confronted immediately by a colorful, 12-foot-tall dinosaur made out of junk. "Trash-o-saurus" resembles something out of the animated movie "Robots."

Pennsylvania sculptor Leo Sewell, who grew up near a dump, fashioned the 24-foot-long piece out of old "no parking" signs, cell phones, shoes, license plates, sunglasses, plastic toys and anything else he could get his hands on. Visitors are given a list of things to find on the dinosaur, and it's no easy feat.

"It's pretty cool," Matt said during a trip with his third-grade class from Sherman, Conn., on a recent Friday. "All the garbage on it, how big it is and how much it weighs."

The sculpture is 2,000 pounds, representing the average amount of garbage and recyclables each person in Connecticut discards each year. Like all the exhibits, "Trash-o-saurus" was designed with the goal of teaching how important recycling is. (AP Photo: Bob Child)

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Suffolk home rule message eyes seceding from state


10:43 PM EDT, May 12, 2009

Suffolk legislators approved a home rule message Tuesday calling for a study and referendum on the merits of Long Island seceding from a "tyrannical" New York State government, though they are unlikely to be taking up muskets for an armed revolt.

The dormant Long Island secession movement awakened by presiding officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), who, angered by the regional payroll tax imposed by state lawmakers to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bailout, called for a vote on the matter to register his anger about the new tax.

While Lindsay said the vote was as a publicity stunt, some of his colleagues were less subdued.

Legis. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham), the body's GOP leader, called for a revolt on Long Island against the state.

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Splitting Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen

We often want to imitate nature for near perfect results. But sometimes it just remains a desire. In its quest for green and clean energy mankind is searching for that magical method that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen.Nature performs this task wonderfully through the process of photosynthesis. Man is still facing challenges in duplicating that process in the laboratory. If we are able to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in the presence of sunlight we will be able to harness the potential of hydrogen as a clean and green fuel. Till date man-made systems are quite inefficient, time consuming, money consuming and often require additional use of chemical agents.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute Organic Chemistry Department under the leadership of Prof. David Milstein have developed a novel way of splitting water molecules that can separate oxygen from water and bind the atoms in a different molecule. This technique leaves the hydrogen free to combine in other compounds as well. They were inspired by photosynthesis, a process carried out by plants. Photosynthesis is the life giving force on the earth because it is the source of all oxygen on the earth.

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Hard Times Give New Life to Prague’s Golem


PRAGUE — They say the Golem, a Jewish giant with glowing eyes and supernatural powers, is lurking once again in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue here.

The Golem, according to Czech legend, was fashioned from clay and brought to life by a rabbi to protect Prague’s 16th-century ghetto from persecution, and is said to be called forth in times of crisis. True to form, he is once again experiencing a revival and, in this commercial age, has spawned a one-monster industry.

There are Golem hotels; Golem door-making companies; Golem clay figurines (made in China); a recent musical starring a dancing Golem; and a Czech strongman called the Golem who bends iron bars with his teeth. The Golem has also infiltrated Czech cuisine: the menu at the non-kosher restaurant called the Golem features a “rabbi’s pocket of beef tenderloin” and a $7 “crisis special” of roast pork and potatoes that would surely have rattled the venerable Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Golem’s supposed maker.

Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, paid her respects, when she visited Rabbi Loew’s grave last month and, following Jewish tradition, placed a prayer on a piece of paper and put it near his tombstone.

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Dad Calls 911 After Son Refuses To Clean Room

BEDFORD, Ohio -- A father called 911 after his son wouldn't clean up his room, police said.

Officers responded to the home of Bedford Board of Education member Andrew Mizsak after hearing and argument and getting a hang up call to 911 on Thursday.

Police said a verbal argument had taken place between Andrew Mizsak Sr. and Andrew Mizsak Jr.

The 63-year-old father said his 29-year-old son became upset when he was told to clean his room.

The son stated that he didn't have time and became enraged. Police said he threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and balled up his fist at his father.

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